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Winnebago Man

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

Click #2 for a 3-D image (3-D glasses required).

The images are grainy and worn, as if they’re being transmitted from some faraway planet. A guy in a dress shirt and slacks sits inside a trailer, pontificating about today’s cutting-edge recreational vehicles. Then this mild-mannered gent starts unleashing an impressively profane tirade; a half-dozen NSFW blow-ups follow, with each eloquently obscene rant getting louder and more worrisome (a rage-induced brain hemorrhage seems inevitable). These outtakes from an ’80s industrial film for Winnebago were collected on tape as a joke, with dubbed copies circulating among lovers of gonzo found footage. Once the clip hit YouTube, former pitch man Jack Rebney—dubbed “The Angriest RV Salesman in the World”—suddenly became a viral-video celebrity.

Director Ben Steinbauer’s doc starts out as a treatise of how the Internet has turned embarrassing moments into worldwide entertainment. But once he decides to hunt down Rebney and hound him with cameras, the movie turns into a much more personal story—and a far less focused one as well. We do get to know this F-bomb wielder: a lonely, near-blind recluse who writes libertarian screeds and doesn’t want his infamy. The filmmaker’s insistence that his subject needs this audience as much as they need him is dubious, and not enough to sustain a thematic through-line; voiceover claims that Rebney “gives voice to the frustration in us all” are almost as funny as those infuriated outbursts. What started as an underground goof ended up becoming a fascinating foul-mouthed curio; though it aims for profundity, Winnebago Man seems destined to suffer the same fate.—David Fear

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